2018 WESSA Annual Review

Ecological infrastructure includes wetlands, mountain catchments, rivers, coastal dunes, and nodes and corridors of natural habitat, which together form a network of interconnected structural elements in the landscape. They give us a whole suite of services, called ecosys- tem services. These diverse ecosystems benefit peo- ple and offer the provision of goods and services. Ecosystem services, just like municipal services, play an essential role in supporting social development and economic prosperity. WESSA has four main projects under the EIS Unit: Working for Ecosystems, Sappi Abanakekeli Bemvelo, Working for the Coast and the Wild Coast Sustain- able Villages project. South Africa’s rich endowments of biodiversity assets and ecological infrastructure play an import- ant role in underpinning the economy. It is for this work specifically that the Eco- logical Infrastructure and Sustainability Unit is a go-to implementer of ecological infrastructure projects in South Africa. The spread of invasive alien species (IAS) is now recognised as one of the greatest threats to the ecological and economic well-being of the planet. ECOLOGICAL INFRASTRUCTURE & SUSTAINABILITY

challenges that threaten both the natu- ral biological riches of the earth and the well-being of our people. These species are causing enormous damage to biodi- versity and the valuable natural agricul- tural systems upon which we depend. Direct and indirect health effects are in- creasingly serious, and the damage to native biodiversity is often irreversible. The effects may be exacerbated by glob- al change and chemical and physical dis- turbance to species and their habitats. Our projects focus on IAS removal and the rehabilitation of the ecological infra- structure, allowing it to perform its func- tions better as a result of improved bio- diversity and water quality and quantity. We also focus on the rehabilitation of broader landscapes including wetlands, natural forests, and grasslands, and we address other forms of ecological degra- dation. Through this combined approach, the landscape is restored to a higher status of functionality so it can provide peo- ple and the environment with goods and services. This work provides em- ployment opportunities, and creates an environment that is conducive for the growth of the green economy.

It is creating complex and far reaching


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